MIDDLETOWN – Anthony S. Perry, 28, took his oath of service at the municipality’s annual reorganization meeting Jan. 6. He is believed to be the youngest major in Middletown’s township history.
His rise to the top office in Middletown follows a general reelection victory in which the Republican recently won a full three-year term. He was unanimously chosen by his fellow committee members to serve a mayoral term in 2019.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the residents of Middletown for their confidence and their trust, as well as to my colleagues for entrusting me to serve this role. It truly has been the the honor of my life to serve this amazing town, and the lessons that I’ve learned have made me not only a better public servant, but a better person,” Perry said.
Perry was appointed to the Township Committee in November 2017, when he was chosen to fill a vacancy left by Steve Massell, who resigned to accept a position on the Monmouth County Tax Board.
Prior to holding office in Middletown, Perry took a position with the state of New Jersey and helped organize recovery efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy with New Jersey’s Departments of Community Affairs and Environmental Protection, and the U.S Office of Emergency Management.
In 2014 he served as Chief of Staff to former State Senator Joe Kyrillos, who attended the Jan. 6 reorganization and delivered the oath of office to Perry.
“Not only is Tony the youngest mayor in the history of Middletown, but he’s also the youngest mayor in the State of New Jersey, and that says a lot about him and his drive to be an outstanding public servant,” Kyrillos said during an interview with the Two River Times. “Middletown is going to be in great hands with him at the top.”
Perry led a Republican ticket this past November that included Patricia A. Snell and Rick W. Hibell, which swept the vote.
Snell was appointed to the Committee in July after Stephanie C. Murray resigned to accept the role of full-time business administrator for West Long Branch. The appointment process was the same for Hibell, who was chosen to step in for former Middletown mayor Gerry P. Scharfenberger upon his selection to the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) was on hand to swear in Snell to a two-year unexpired term, while Scharfenberger delivered the oath to Hibell for a one-year unexpired term.
Scharfenberger, who was sworn into a one-year unexpired term of his own during the Freeholders’ Jan. 3 reogranization, said Perry’s election will inject fresh blood and ideas into the County’s largest municipality.
“I’ve heard it over and over again that it’s the same old faces in local politics, but here we have a 28-year old who’s the best of all worlds,” said Scharfenberger, who served three mayoral terms in Middletown.
“(Perry) has a tremendous amount of experience at the state level, so he understands legislation. But he’s also been on boards and commissions locally, so he understands both ends. We’re very fortunate.”
Committee & Board of Ed Table Election Talk
In an act of solidarity, the Township’s governing body and Board of Education decided to table competing resolutions and contentious election talks Sunday morning.
The Board was forced to scramble when, according to Board Attorney Lester Taylor, it was served a letter near the end of the Jan. 3 business day stating the governing body’s intentions to adopt a resolution moving the Board elections to April, rather than the first Tuesday in November, to “provide voters with a greater voice on a majority of their property tax bill.”
A copy of the Board’s proposed resolution stated that moving the election back to April would result in a significant financial burden on local tax payers in excess of $40,000, as well as giving the Township Committee authority to set the school budget if residents voted it down.
A springtime election would also cut the term-length of board members by nearly eight months.
“We are not looking to shorten anybody’s term,” said the Township’s Deputy Mayor, Anthony P. Fiore, during the public comment session. “I’m not here to opine on how we got to this point, I’m here to state the intentions of the Committee, and they are to work with this Board of Education. Our intention was never to take the dialogue away on this subject.”
Fiore gave his word that the Committee would table its resolution at the reorganization meeting later that morning if the Board chose to do the same.
Following a brief executive session, the Board voted 7-2 in favor of tabling their resolution, which, if passed, would not be a piece of legally binding legislation. Later that morning the Committee was true to its word, voting unanimously to table its resolution.
Jan. 14 was a proposed meeting date for both sides to continue the conversation, ahead of the Board’s next scheduled meeting Jan. 15.
Jan. 21 is the deadline to notify the Monmouth County Clerk’s office that a resolution has been passed to move the Board of Education election to April.
This article was first published in the Jan. 10-Jan. 16, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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